Cebu Pacific to mount flights to Sydney, Kuwait

by Jon Carlos Rodriguez,

Posted at Jun 16 2014 01:55 PM | Updated as of Jun 17 2014 05:50 PM

Cebu Pacific President and CEO Lance Gokongwei and General Manager for Long-Haul Division Alex Reyes unveil the airline's two newest long-haul destinations: Sydney and Kuwait.

Promo fares available

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Gokongwei-owned Cebu Pacific announced on Monday that it will be mounting flights to Sydney, Australia and Kuwait in September.

Cebu Pacific, which is the first low cost airline to offer the nonstop Manila-Sydney route, will fly to Australia four times a week.

All-in, one-way fares to Sydney are offered at a promo rate of P4,999. After the seat sale, lowest fares to Sydney start at P12,150.

Cebu Pacific Long Haul Division general manager Alex Reyes said the Sydney route is expected to boost tourism to and from Australia, an underserved market where about 300,000 Filipinos are based.

“Australia and Philippines trade has been growing quite robustly, but we feel quite strongly that tourism potential both ways is still not yet fully maximized. There is still a lot of potential for additional traffic between the Philippines and Australia,” Reyes said in a press conference on Monday.

Reyes noted that Sydney is closer to Manila than Bangkok, but the Philippines is only getting about one-fourth of total Australian visitors in Thailand.

“There is a huge potential for the Philippines to attract a lot more tourist arrivals from Australia,” he said.

Sydney is Australia’s largest city and its main gateway where the Sydney Opera House is located.

Flights to and from Sydney will start on September 9.

Non-stop flights to Kuwait, on the other hand, will start on September 2.

Cebu Pacific will also be the first budget carrier to fly nonstop to Kuwait, where there are about 180,000 Filipino workers, three times a week.

The airline is offering a P1 fare seat sale for Kuwait flights. After the sale, lowest flights start at P4,999.

Cebu Pacific president and chief executive Lance Gokongwei said profit is expected from these routes anywhere between 6 to 18 months after the launch.

He added that the airline is expecting passenger traffic growth in these areas, similar to what was seen in the Manila-Dubai route, which was launched in October 2013.

“Since we introduced our direct Manila to Dubai flights, the prices between Manila and Dubai dropped an average of 15 percent, and up to 30 percent on a seat sale basis. If you look at the first quarter of this year, the traffic between Manila and Dubai has grown as a result of these lower fares,” Gokongwei said.

Cebu Pacific will use brand-new, 436-seater Airbus A330-300 aircraft for the Sydney and Kuwait flights.

Cebu Pacific also offers flights to Beijing, Singapore, and Tokyo.

Flight to Guam to be launched

The airline is also looking to mount possible flights to Myanmar, Canada and the US, particularly Hawaii and Guam.

Gokongwei said flights to Guam will likely be launched within the year.

Cebu Pacific is currently awaiting Congressional approval for the transfer of the Tigerair Philippines franchise from Singapore-based Tiger Airways Holdings and other Philippine shareholders.

By July, both Cebu Pacific and Tiger Airways flights are expected to be available on the international website of Tiger Airways.

All Tiger Airways flights, meanwhile, are expected to be accessible on the Cebu Pacific website by September.

“This means that you will be able to book directly not only Cebu Pacific but all the entire inventory of Tiger which adds another 18 countries and about 46 international destinations to Cebu Pacific’s already wide network,” said Gokongwei.

Gokongwei said Cebu Pacific and Tigerair are expecting to serve 17 million passengers this year, up from last year’s 14.3 million passengers.

Profits of Cebu Pacific plunged 86 percent in the first quarter of 2014, but Gokongwei said the airline is expecting better numbers in the remaining nine months of the year.

“We expect the back half of this year to be stronger than the back half of last year…On an operating basis, we expect that with the integration of Tiger and strengthening of the peso, we expect the back nine months to be better,” he said.